Copyright: Legal capacity of human beings

Education and Research: Children and Copyright, a comment by Daniel Sebastian, Attorney at Law, IPPC LAW Rechtsanwaltgesellschaft mbH from Berlin

Children can also be owners of copyrights. The legal capacity of a human being begins at birth. No legal capacity is required for the acquisition of copyrights, in particular through one’s own creative work, for example painting a picture. In this respect, the child’s capacity for insight or limited legal capacity is also irrelevant.

Created works: Copyright in childhood – does age play a role?

Thus, age does not play a role. What is important is that the created work, for example the picture, has a certain originality. This is now in the eye of the beholder, or, legally speaking, in the eye of informed circles. Children in particular often abstract strongly in their pictures and are therefore intuitively creative. Copyright protection is enjoyed by the work – and thus the author – by creating the work. Registration is not required, nor is the affixing of a copyright notice. A signature with one’s own name or an artist’s name, on the other hand, can facilitate proof. If the drawing or picture has been photographed by the mother or father, for example, there are additional copyrights to the photograph. In any case, it is often the case that different parties or persons are entitled to rights to a single work. This may involve co-authorship, but also the parallel existence of ancillary copyrights and copyrights. For example, there is the ancillary copyright of the phonogram producer, which is usually the record label. In addition, the author has copyrights to the lyrics and the artist has rights to the composition. Once the record has been published, the image rights to the design of the cover are often added. But even in a simple situation like the one at hand, at least three people can be considered to have rights to the picture: the grandfather and the granddaughter who painted the picture together are co-authors. If the picture was taken by the mother, she has rights as the photographer.

Digitization – Internet – Dissemination

Copyright: Legal capacity of human beings / IPPC LAWNowadays, children come into contact with copyright law at an early age, at the latest in school. The question then arises, for example, whether textbooks or excerpts from books may be copied, whether by the teacher or by the students themselves. This is permitted up to a certain threshold (15 percent) during lessons.

At some point, students may also want to exchange music, films or games with each other. If this is actually done privately, without the detour via Internet file-sharing networks, it is not problematic, since the right to private copying usually covers such uses. However, we strongly advise against downloading something for free from unknown sources on the Internet that costs money elsewhere. This is usually Internet piracy. This can lead to a warning notice and thus to high costs. This is where parents are called upon to properly educate their children and monitor their Internet behavior.

Regulations for protection and security

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has also already addressed the issue of copyright in everyday school life and published a very nice compilation. You can access this here:

In summary, it can be said that children are both protected by copyright on their part when they perform creative acts and thus create images, music or films, for example. On the other hand, children must also already respect the copyright of others, and parents are responsible for ensuring that this happens in case of doubt.

In case of doubt, it is always advisable to seek the qualified advice of a lawyer who is familiar with the matter.


Daniel Sebastian

About lawyer Daniel Sebastian:

Attorney Daniel Sebastian, Kurfürstendamm 103, 10711 Berlin and/or its enterprise IPPC LAW attorney company ltd. belong for years to the in demand experts approximately around the protection of copyrights and trademark rights. The firm’s activities focus on contract law, copyright and media law, industrial property rights (competition law) and claims management. The law firm IPPC LAW Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH represents clients not only in Berlin, but nationwide. Further information under:


IPPC LAW Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
Daniel Sebastian – Rechtsanwalt –

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